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The adventures of the Mel

Dazzling Dubrovnik

CROATIA | Sunday, 16 October 2011 | Views [699]

Yes, I like alliteration. Shut it.

I'm obviously writing this retrospectively (again - why do I do this to myself??) but it's taken me ages to find the time....we kinda hit the ground running. So, where were we??

After getting off the ferry we headed south to Dubrovnik. Three and half hours and two passport checks later (to drive straight to Dubrovnik you have to go through Bosnia) and we were there (though too many windy roads had left me feeling a little worse for wear). We had to park in a public carpark and wait for our 'host' to come and pick us up. Marija arrived five minutes later and walked us up to our apartment. She was lovely and friendly, and very eager to point out her garden to us, though I just wanted to go to bed. I stayed up long enough to discover that she had wireless internet (yay!) and then I went straight to bed. The boys, strangely enough, stayed up and drank.

The next morning Andrew and I headed into the old city, only about a 10 minute walk down a number stairs from our apartment (Cam had already left for the day). We walked in and were slapped with the bustle of tourists, which was a rude awakening from our week on Vis. We lined up to buy a ticket to walk around the old walls, which was beautiful. It took about 45 minutes or so and you had to navigate around people that were walking more slowly than us/stopping to take photos, but it was worth the $15 or so it cost. The walk elicited thoughts of the Great Wall of China, as there were many stairs taking you up and down the stone walls as you circled the city, though Andrew assures me that the similarities are only superficial. The pathway itself was reasonably narrow in some/most places. Generally speaking there is enough room for one person to walk each way, but only in some sections was it wider than this. The entire perimeter of the wall was also peppered with small squares where you could stop for some easier and sometimes prettier photos. Looking in you could see the plethora of orange rooved buildings, mostly new after being shelled in 1991. Looking out you could see the ocean, the new town, and many cliff-lined rocky 'beaches', depending on your position on the wall.

The walk helped me to adjust to the ridiculous number of people floating around the city somewhat - though we found out later that it was a very busy day - three cruise ships had disengorged for the day. Wish I'd known that sooner! We walked around inside the old town, and it is quite a beautiful city - I very much understand the appeal. Despite having been almost destroyed in the shelling of 1991, everything still seems to have the age of a standard European old town. Even the main street's stone were that 'shiny' that comes from countless people traipsing across it. The photos tell a better story than I will now, from a memory a week and half old.

We popped into Europe's oldest pharmacy, which, despite the number of old jars lining the walls floor to ceiling, is still a functioning chemist. We bypassed the Monastery and headed into a photography musuem displaying powerful images of war, from the recent conflicts in Libya, Bahrain, Egypt to older images taken during the fall of Yugoslavia. Some photos were very graphic, which I wasn't quite prepared for, but years of watching trash like CSI allowed me to pretend it wasn't real so that I wouldn't vomit. One particularly powerful photograph was of a bare-chested child solider from somewhere in Africa bearing a large automatic weapon, looking up at the photographer with sad, wide eyes. We spent quite a long time in the museum, looking at the photographs and reading the descriptions of what was happening and where it was from. It's one museum that I will never forget.

After that sobering time we trekked up to just outside the old town to take the cable car up for a panoramic view of the city. I can't say it was my favourite thing, and the attendant had a bit of a chuckle at my white-gripped knuckles on the bar and Andrew's shirt. Once up there we had a bit of a walk around, including in an abandoned building that has not been touched since the shellings - enter at your own risk. Sure Andrew, why ISN'T that a good idea??

Thankfully we didn't stay up there too long, and headed back down to have some lunch. I am thrilled to report that Dubrovnik does vegetarian food VERY well. We had lunch at a vegetarian place that was so good, we went back and had dinner there the next night. After a huge salad and some chickpea 'burgers' (tastes much better than it sounds, believe me) we explored the old town a little more. Not much more to report aside from coming across a camera crew filming something in front of an old church. More exciting was the almost pure white boxer that came trotting across.

Dinner that night was at a place call the Taj Mahal, and it was spectacular. Though definitely not vegetarian, it had a vegetarian section and was one of the best vegetarian meals I've ever had. Also possibly the largest because I ordered three separate plates. Eggplant-wrapped soft cheese (similar to ricotta but with various herbs and spices), grilled skewered vegetables and grilled mushrooms filled with a delicious cream cheese....I went home very full but DAMN it was worth it!!

The next day Andrew and I headed out to an island called Lokrum and had a walk around there. The island honestly didn't have much...but we were totally okay with that. There was a botanical gardens there, and as soon as you enter you felt like you were at home, with the Australian section first up. Gums, wattles, bottlebrushes...awesome. We wandered around for a while but quickly discovered that much of the island was closed off for risk of bushire, so quickly made our way to one of the rocky beaches. We did pass an inland 'sea' (read small lake) were there was a young family splashing about, though it lacked the beautiful turquoise colour that is almost ubiquitous in this country. Upon arriving at the beach we laid out our towels and went for a swim (this time I bought my swimming shoes). Because it is so rocky you can't just wander in - they have installed ladders like you see at pools and from the bottom you have to dive in AWAY from the rocks. It's a little different to what we're used to, for sure. Still, don't have to worry about anything eating you I guess. We lazed around for about 2 hours, and after another quick dip we headed back to catch the ferry to the mainland.

One thing I do love about being surrounded by so many tourists is the plethora of different languages you hear around you. Some are easily identifiable (French, Italian, Spanish, German), others leave you guessing (that's not quite Italian but it's not Croatian....what is that??), which is a fun past-time.

Getting back to the mainland we finally found the bar 'with the most beautiful views', and they're not far wrong. It is perched almost precariously on a cliff face, and you sip on your drink whilst looking out at the beach from the cliffs above, watching swimmers below or boats further out. Not a bad way to spend a sunset.

We headed back to pick Cam up and head out for dinner back to the vegetarian place for dinner, and we weren't disappointed. It was REAL vegetarian food - not just a dish without meat, which is hard to find anywhere let alone in Croatia. Dubrovnik certainly wins my vote for food.

And that, is just about it. We headed back and as usual, the boys stayed up drinking and I went to sleep. We had to be up and ready to go by 9:30 am so that we could check out, collect our car (which was now in a private carpark belonging to the owner of the apartment) and make the drive back up to Split to catch our plane. A great last day, but I didn't exactly want to come home. At least we had a needy, clingy kitten to come home to....

Dubrovnik photos

 

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